In a step towards the UK government’s long-term carbon neutrality target, the country’s nine major water and sewerage providers have joined together in a commitment that will see 11 million trees planted. The agreement will include the restoration of original woodland now owned by water companies as well as new projects across National Trust, Wildlife Trust, and RSPB owned land.
The move has been celebrated by Sir William Worsley, the Government’s National Tree Champion who said to Water UK “I welcome this pledge from England’s water companies, who have clearly seen the value in planting trees and acknowledged the vital role they will play in helping us to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
“Trees are carbon sinks, provide crucial habitats for precious wildlife, mitigate flood risk and provide a valuable renewable resource in timber – and I encourage other industries to follow Water UK’s excellent example to ensure we boost planting rates across the country.”
Outside of the Government’s overall target of a carbon neutral country by 2050 the water sector itself is setting sights on the year 2030. Planting trees is a large part of the strategy for most water boards, with several already having projects well underway.
United Utilities has planted 800,000 trees since 2005, for instance, with a target of 440,000 more over the next 5 years. Yorkshire Water planted 14,000 trees in December of last year as part of a one million tree initiative with the Woodland Trust which aims to “enhance the environment and reduce the risk of flooding”. Anglian water plan to introduce a million plants including trees, hedging plants and shrubs in urban areas, in a 25-year project, and Severn Trent have already planted 500,000 trees with a further 250,000 expected by 2024.
It is expected that all these water companies will be working with the Woodland Trust to identify and manage sites throughout these programmes – the latest in a long line of projects the Trust have assisted with including planting trees in a carbon offsetting initiative with Circular Computing’s printing partners, John Dollin.